SeaWorld Tumbles After Cutting 2013 Sales Forecast

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc., the operator of theme parks featuring killer whales, fell as much as 14 percent after cutting its forecast for 2013 sales as attendance fell in the second quarter.

The stock dropped as low as $31.40 in extended trading yesterday after declining 0.4 percent to $36.31 at the close in New York. The company went public in April at $27 a share.

SeaWorld, controlled by Blackstone Group LP, forecast full-year revenue of $1.45 billion to $1.48 billion, according to a statement yesterday. In May, it projected sales of $1.46 billion to $1.49 billion. Analysts on average had estimated $1.5 billion for the year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

SeaWorld, which operates 11 parks, said attendance fell 9 percent to about 6.6 million guests in the second quarter, from a year earlier, in part because it raised ticket prices and the Easter holiday fell in the previous quarter. The company, which opened its Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin attraction in Orlando in May, has increased investment under Blackstone, adding 11 attractions last year.

Visitors in Florida and Virginia were also discouraged by heavier than usual rainfall, Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison said in a conference call with investors.

“We’ve dealt with different weather patterns before,” Atchison said. “The fundamentals of our business we’re quite pleased with and are very strong.”

Lower Attendance

Sales for the three months ending in June fell 3.4 percent to $411.3 million, reflecting the lower park attendance. Analysts had forecast $436.7 million. Profit of 41 cents a share, excluding items, exceeded the 39-cent average of nine analysts’ estimates.

The company, based in Orlando, Florida, said higher ticket prices and increased spending by guests at parks helped boost revenue per visitor by 7 percent in the quarter.

SeaWorld is the focus of a critical documentary now in theaters called “Blackfish,” which chronicles the life of a killer whale. Fred Jacobs, a spokesman for the company, said visitor attendance and its sales forecast were unaffected by the film.

The company’s forecast for full-year profit, measured as adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was unchanged at $430 million to $440 million.

Blackstone, the world’s largest private-equity firm, bought SeaWorld from Anheuser-Busch InBev NV in 2009 and has a 63 percent stake in the company.

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